Detained Since: April 30, 2019.
Charges: “Unlawful membership of an illegal group aimed at disrupting domestic security” and “taking action against the Islamic Republic regime in favor of opposition groups.”
Biography: Ardeshir Fanaian is a Baha'i targeted and imprisoned in Iran for his membership in a Baha'i faith group. On April 30, 2019, masked agents from the Semnan Intelligence Bureau raided Mr. Fanaian’s home, arresting and taking him to an undisclosed location. Along with two other arrested Baha’is, he was accused of “unlawful membership of an illegal group aimed at disrupting domestic security,” “participation in, formation and administration of an unlawful group intended to unsettling national security inside the country,” and “taking part in action against the Islamic Republic regime in favor of opposition groups.” He was reportedly denied access to a lawyer.
In October 2019, Mr. Fanaian was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Semnan to 10 years in prison and one year of exile on charges of “membership of illegal groups acting against national security” and “acting against national security through propaganda and organizational activities.” In January 2020 the Court of Appeals of Semnan Province reduced the sentence to six years imprisonment under tazir [discretionary] law.
Ardeshir Fanaian has been previously targeted and imprisoned by the Iranian government for belonging to a faith group. Mr. Fanaian was arrested in 2013 as a high school student and sentenced to 9 months in prison for teaching and propagating the Bahá’í Faith.
Mr. Fanaian's mother was killed in a car accident apparently in April 2019. His father died of illness on June 5, 2019. Ardeshir Fanaian's request for a furlough to attend his father's funeral was denied.
In August 2020, Mr. Fanaian was granted a short prison furlough during which he married Golrokh Firuzeyan, who has also served prison time for her Bahá’í beliefs.
Advocate: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)